Work is underway to develop a virtual mental health counselling, information and referral service for post-secondary students of all ages throughout British Columbia. A notice of planned procurement has been posted to BC Bid, advising of plans to develop a 24/7 mental health and substance-use counselling and referral service.
“Adjusting to a new environment, learning to balance classes with new jobs, new friendships and relationships can be challenging for students who may be living away from home for the first time, far from friends and family,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Whether mild or severe, mental-health concerns are very real among post-secondary students who have been calling for action to this important issue on- and off-campus. That’s why our government is working to develop a mental-health service that is available to students around the clock, province-wide.”
Presently, there is no province-wide resource available to post-secondary students and where there are resources, students often lack after-hours access.
The scope of the project is for a service that includes phone, online chat, text and email capabilities. Post-secondary students, aged 15-24, are more likely to report mental illness and/or substance-use disorders than other age groups. The 2016 National College Health Association survey of Canadian post-secondary students found a significant number of students are experiencing mental-health problems and illnesses: 44.4% of surveyed students reported that at some point in the previous 12 months they felt “so depressed it was difficult to function”; 13% had seriously considered suicide; 2.1% had attempted suicide and 18.4% reported being “diagnosed or treated by a professional” for anxiety. [SEE Ministry release for more details]